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Tour of California 2017: Stage 1

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 1 of the Tour of California, a 167.5 loop out from Sacramento and back.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 1 of the Tour of California. It'll be a good day for the sprinters with no classified climbs along the 167.5km route out from Sacramento and back after a figure-8 jaunt south.

The stage starts in front of the state capitol and heads directly out of town. Riders are rolling through the city streets now.

The first intermediate sprint of the day comes 121.5km into the day. Time bonuses of three, two and one second go to the top three. Time bonuses of 10, six and four seconds to the top three at the finish will likely decide who leads the overall.

California has lived up to its Golden State nickname today, greeting riders with beautiful blue skies and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

We already have breakaway as four riders have gone up the road and built a 1:25 gap.

In the break are BMC's Floris Gerts, UnitedHealthcare's Jonny Clarke, Novo Nordisk's Charles Planet and Jelly Belly-Maxxis' Ben Wolfe

 

It was a blockbuster day today at the Giro d'Italia, with arc favourite Nairo Quintana taking the win on the Blockhaus climb.

 

Read our coverage of the stage Here.

 

The gap went up to 1:45 and then dropped back to 1:35. This looks like the break of the day. Now the peloton needs to decide how much room to give them escapees.

 

BMC will be working for Jempy Drucker int he finale today. The 30-year-old from Luxembourg was wearing his lucky number 13 upside down. He told our Ted Burns he's ready to give it a shot in the sprints against Kittel, Degenkolb, Sagan, Kristoff and Viviani.

 

"I gotta try to give it a good shot," he said. "Two years ago I was third. I think you have to be in front before hitting the circuit and then always be in a good position and try to have a bit of luck also, because I have no real train in front of me compared to Quick-Step and Katusha, so I am going to jump from wheel to wheel and hopefully I’m lucky enough."

 

The gap has gone back out to 1:50 now.

 

 

Team Sky's Elia Viviani is in California with hopes of taking his first stage win here. He has raced here only once before, with Cannondale in 2010 when Peter Sagan won his first two of 15 career California stage wins.

 

Viviani says he is in California with the best possible lead out train he can get from Team Sky. Read more about Viviani in California HERE.

Look like the peloton is willing to let out a little more leash. A group nature break allows the leaders to build the gap to 2:10.

 

Trek-Segafredo's John Degenkolb is one of the riders to watch in today's finish.  He says he's feeling good and hoping that his prior experience on the course will help him in the finale.

 

"I’m feeling alright thank you, of course it’s a good stage to kick off the race and I know the final circuit pretty well. I’ve done it already twice and I’m looking forward to it for sure."

 

The race is on a narrow two-lane country road now, and a slight wind is blowing. Nothing that's going to throw the are into echelons, however.

 

While Viviani and his Sky teammates are hoping for success in California today, their teammates in the Giro suffered a disastrous stage when a huge crash at the bottom of the final climb gave a massive battering to their GC aspirations. Read more about the stage and the crash HERE.

The new gap to the four escapees is 2:30

 

 Quick-Stp Floors won the race last year with Julian Alaphlippe, but with the Frenchman sidelines by injury this year, the team is here hunting stage wins with Marcel Kittel. Cyclingnews spoke with Matteo Trentin on Friday about the race. Read what he had to say HERE.

 

If you missed today's Giro stage, you can watch the video highlights HERE.

Rick Zabel is in California with Katusha-Alpecin. The team is hoping to lead Alexander Kristoff to the first stage win and the first leader's jersey. We spoke with Zabel this morning before the start.

 

"First stage here in California and we are looking for a sprint. Big goal is to win the stage with Alex. For sure we try to bring the breakaway back and control it on the local laps and just try to make good leadout laps for Alex."

 

Cofidis is riding the team's first Tour of California, and the French team had planned to bring sprint ace Nacer Bouhanni, but a recent concussion knocked the French fast man from the team's roster. Jonas van genechten will pick up sprint duties in Bouhanni's absence. We spoke to him about it this morning.

 

"It’s a flat stage so we hope for not so much wind," he said. "I think it’s going to be clear and small break and the the final all the teams for the sprint."

 

Several riders from the Rally Cycling team are riding on one-off hand-painted Diamondback bikes this week that will be auctioned off after the race to benefit the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundtion.

 

Read more about the foundation and check out the bikes in our gallery HERE.

 

Over at the Giro, Orica-Scott director Matt White was reportedly furious that Movistar attacked rather than easing back after the big crash at the bottom of the final Blockhaus climb.

 

Read the story and White's post-race comments HERE.

 

The gap is down to two minutes again, with 122.8km to go

 

The gap is down just under two minutes. The peloton is strung out riding on a raised road next to the Sacramento River. Kittel is currently back at the team car getting some service.

 

Katusha and Quick-Step appear to be committed to powering the chase today. There's a single Katusha rider on the front followed by train of Quick-Step riders.

 

BMC racing finished second and third last year with Rohan Dennis and Brent Bookwalter, respectively. Bookwalter is the highest-placed rider form last year's edition racing this week, but BMC has designated Sammy Sanchez team leader. Bookwalter is taking it all in stride, however, and keeping this own ambitions alive. Read more about what Bookwalter had to say HERE.

 

Alexander Kristoff told Cyclingnews yesterday that morale within the Katusha squad in California is good, and he believes he's got the sprint train here to compete with Quick-Step, Sky, Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe. He also talked about rebounding from the team's disappointing Classics campaign. Read more HERE

 

The women's race is finishing up with a circuit in downtown Sacramento, the racing is fast and furious as mere seconds separate the top riders.

Best young rider Arlenis Sierra had to chase back on, possibly due to a puncture or crash. You can read more about the Cuban phenom here.

Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) is back in the team cars, but there's no panic. The race is cruising along - the roads are wide open and flat, and Quick-Step's steady tempo has the bunch lined out.

 

Over on the women's side, Boels Dolmans is taking control to try and set up Anna van der Breggen for the intermediate sprint bonus - she needs one second to take the lead from Katie Hall.

The men's breakaway is being kept at almost precisely two minutes. The situation is much more dynamic downtown, where UHC is determined to keep Hall in that race lead. Anna van der Breggen, second place overall, had a crash earlier but is back in and on her Boels Dolmans train.

KM17.5: 5 laps done, 15 to go. Still all together. It will be really hard to break clear today. #AmgenTOCWomen… https://t.co/vjk1r6GsCV

@UCI_WWT Sun, 14th May 2017 20:03:37

Here's a look at what the women are up to, and what the men will be doing when they get into town and face those final circuits.

96km remaining from 167km

Alain Gallopin (Trek-Segafredo director) is hoping that today will be a good stage for his sprinter John Degenkolb:

"There are a lot of teams that come for the big sprints here, but we’ll try to do our best for John, of course," he said this morning.

"For GC we have this young Ruben Guerreiro. He was good last year. And we have [Haimar] Zubeldia close to the end of his career, but he can be good. But more we are here for the sprints with John."

The breakaway is still at 1:56, pedaling under the clear, blue California sky.

Back in Sacramento, there was a brief breakaway as Boels Dolmans' pressure caused a split to form, but it's all back together.

It seems the peloton have encountered some crosswinds as we see some echelons beginning to form in the men's race. Katusha sent a rider to the front - there were some tiny splits but it's not breaking apart yet.

As the men's peloton is back together, the women are also still together racing so quickly that nothing can get away. UHC would love to see a group get away and mop up those sprint bonus seconds, but it's not happening.

The most exciting moment of the men's race has just happened: George Bennett (LottoNl-Jumbo) slammed on the brakes and went off-road. But he only had to answer the call of nature.

That was a fast break - and Bennett is now chasing back through the team cars alongside number 13 Jempy Drucker.

We spoke to Bennett's teammate Alexey Vermuelen, who is back in the USA after a long European campaign.

"It’s always nice to be in California, just because it’s nice to come back, but also I got to come home for a week and see the family, see the brothers, so it gives you a little bit of a break and a little motivation," he said.

"It’s exciting to get a little extra cheer than your Euro teammates here. [Start line announcer] Dave Towle is telling Robert [Gesink] to wait little bit while he talks to you, so there are funny little things that you’re going to get shit for in the camper van, but it’s funny. It’s always nice to come home, even if it’s not very close to my actual home.

[GC this week: Gesink? Bennet?]

"I think both. We have a really strong team, I think one of the better climbing teams in the race. Today will be a tough day for us result-wide maybe. We’ll see how it is. But looking at the GC after the Baldy stage, I think you’re going to see a good amount of yellow in the top 10."

87km remaining from 167km

The breakaway is beginning to succumb to the pressure of the peloton behind, their gap is 1:45 with still 87km to race.

We have an attack in the women's race from a DNA rider - she isn't given any leeway as Rallly patrol the front with European champion Anna van der Breggen tucked in fourth wheel.

83km remaining from 167km

Marcel Kittel is back in the team cars again - he had his pedal tightened earlier and is again having to come back to the front, where his team has stepped off the gas.

Just a reminder we'll have full video recaps of the women's race later today. UHC is currently setting a high pace, not wanting the race to get out of their control ahead of the critical bonus sprint in five laps.

You can check out our full coverage of the Amgen Women's Race here.

Maciej Bodnar and Rafal Majka (Bora) and Matteo Dal Cin (Rally) are coming back through the team cars - we didn't see what happened, but they seem fine. Perhaps just getting a snack.

 

76km remaining from 167km

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is the next rider to make his way through the cars. He's got company from a Cofidis rider as they dive in and out of each team car's slipstream.

We are sad that Cofidis came but left behind their firey sprinter Nacer Bouhanni. He's suffered a nasty concussion in the Tour de Yorkshire and had to stay home. Geoffrey Soupe is leaving Sagan behind to have a chat with the Bora car.

Sagan is hanging onto the team car for an extended time, but not getting assistance from the mechanic - he might face a fine from the commissaires for that.

Now, the mechanic works on his seatpost or saddle - he certainly isn't worried about getting back to the front as Quick-Step have eased up, letting the break get out to 2:10.

It's all going to kick off when they get to the closing circuit in Sacramento. They'll go around the same 3.5km circuit as the women, with a sprint on their first pass of the line and then three more laps.

Speaking of the women, it's getting down to crunch time - the sprint comes in just over a lap, and Tayler Wiles has been time trialing at the head of the field for several laps to discourage attacks. Must be nice to have the Tour of the Gila overall winner at your service!

Here come the women for the intermediate sprint bonus, and Boels Dolmans has a full-on lead-out going on.

Hall is distanced, and Bronzini takes out the sprint over Van der Breggen - though it was very close with Sierra ading to her young rider's standings with third.

The European and Olympic champion now has the overall race lead (virtually).

67km remaining from 167km

The peloton in the men's race is single file as they head back toward Sacramento, with Katusha and Quick-Step up front on the throttle.

 

The men's race is getting animated and the crosswind is causing some splits among the peloton - Sky has three riders on the wrong end behind UHC and Rally.

Eric Young (Rally) is one of those in the back echelon, and it looks like he's stuck in the small ring, spinning like mad.

64km remaining from 167km

The gap to the leaders is really falling fast now, just 40 seconds as they're really struggling.

The peloton is back together now that they've changed directions and have more trees to block the wind.

Trek-Segafredo see an opening in the trees and they are out of the saddle at the front, really pushing the pace in an attempt to crack the peloton.

 

The front of the peloton can see the four leaders as they wind over not exactly flat roads.

Back in the women's race, Megan Guarnier has been dropped - this could move Arlenis Sierra onto the final podium.

LottoNl-Jumbo and Bora-Hansgrohe have replaced Katusha and Quick-Step on the front. Sagan himself is right behind.

59km remaining from 167km

Peter Sagan rolls through - there must be a split somewhere, or they think they can force one. The bunch is single file, pinned against the right side of the road.

Back in town, the women's race is gruppo compatto as they head in for their penultimate lap with UHC in the lead.

And it's as if someone clicked the off switch on the peloton. Maybe Sagan asked them to knock it off? We've got a feed zone coming so we don't need any nonsense.

The peloton is refueling after taking on their feeds and so the breakaway gets a reprieve - they're 50 seconds ahead now after almost being caught.

In the women's race, there's 1 lap to go but a crash took out two riders. They're OK but out of contention now.

Ruth Winder leads the women across the line - she'll likely say goodbye to that white jersey because of Sierra's time bonuses, but is all in for her teammate Hall.

Actually - Winder already lost it but wears white because Sierra is in the points jersey, apologies.

Two Sky riders, Elia Viviani and Peter Kennaugh are chasing through the cars as the breakaway goes back out to 1:25. They've got a sprint bonus coming up in 5k or so.

Here come the women to the line in Sacramento.

Sunweb are leading it out-  looks like another for Rivera?

Hall is getting mixed into the sprint.

Bronzini gets the win!  No bonuses for the top riders as Rivera and Wild fill out the top three. That means the overall is Van der Breggen, Hall and Sierra.

British champion Hannah Barnes was fourth.

47km remaining from 167km

Floris Gerts (BMC) has attacked the breakaway ahead of the intermediate sprint. But he's got 1km to go to get that bonus.

That was quite an effort but Gerts gets the sprint and then as the other three riders come past, he has to rely on their good graces to catch back up.

42km remaining from 167km

Clark took second over Planet and Wolfe in that sprint. Their lead is holding steady at 1:07 now.

Despite that brief appearance at the front from LottoNl-Jumbo and Bora, it's been Quick-Step and Katusha all day, and they're still the ones who are lining out the bunch. Although now BMC have taken positions 3-11.

Back to the women for one moment: Van der Breggen will move into the WorldTour lead over Annemiek van Vleuten thanks to her win here.

Arlenis Sierra at #AMGENTOCWOMEN: 3rd in general classification, 1st in points and Under25 classifications! AMAZING!!! #uciwwt @AmgenTOC

@astanawomen Sun, 14th May 2017 21:31:45

39km remaining from 167km

The leaders are now dangling at 55 seconds as the one Katusha rider continues pulling for the entire peloton.

The wind has definitely gone out of the sails of our four breakaway riders - just 35 seconds remain of their lead.

Meanwhile, Martin Velits is setting the tempo in the field, swapping turns with (we think) Tiago Machado. The pair have been basically working the entire stage on the front.

33km remaining from 167km

And now the attacks from the breakaway have started: Wolfe has gone up the road.

Planet thinks about going across, but then his senses come back to him. Wolfe is really pouring a lot into this attack but not going very far.

Wolfe is getting a little help from the lead official, just a bit of a slipstream giving him an advantage over the chasers. Gerts calls BS on that.

It is Machado who is setting the tempo - he's an excellent time trialist as is Velits, and so is accustomed to riding into the wind.


Up ahead, Wolfe is still going solo, his former companions vanishing in the distance behind him.

27km remaining from 167km

Wolfe is continuing on with this folly. Maybe he hopes to solo into Sacramento for maximum TV time - he's got 20 seconds on the trio and 1:05 on the Machado-led bunch. Only 13km to the entry in Sacramento.

Wolfe looks like he could chew on those Jelly Belly beans on his top tube. He's been out there for a long time. He gets out of the saddle to try and keep the legs ticking over.

Wolfe resides in Greenville, SC, and we're pleased to note he had a couple wins there in the early season - one in Rich Hincapie's Spring Training Series, and one in a criterium in Hendersonville, NC.

There's a bunching up in the peloton at the back - it's getting a little hairier than they might like it. Still Velits and Machado and the BMC train at the fore, but behind them it's mayhem.

i love @Ben_Wolfe . Way to go man! #AmgenTOC

@Jerm_Durrin Sun, 14th May 2017 21:58:03

18km remaining from 167km

Oh dear, Wolfe's strength has faded and at 19km to go and he's back with the trio.

So Wolfe doesn't get to lead into Sacramento, but TV time was achieved. 45 seconds to the peloton.

The leaders are heading toward the Tower Bridge, which goes over the Sacramento River. 

15km remaining from 167km

The peloton splits at a median, but no worries, they get back together. The leaders are over the bridge and into Sacramento proper.

The leaders are heading straight for the Capitol building and then turn onto the circuit.

Wolfe's effort is not for naught - he's been awarded the "most courageous" jersey.

The leaders have 25 seconds now, they will likely stay clear at the line but not much longer.

13km remaining from 167km

Now Team Sky come to the fore for Viviani with 13.6km to go

Their addition to the pace brings the gap to 10" for the leaders, and they have to attack. Wolfe goes again.

11km remaining from 167km

The quartet are under the 1k banner as they head in to the line - but they'll have 3 laps to go.

The peloton is all shades of blue and red now as Sky, Bora, Quick-Step, Cofidis and Katusha fight for their positions.

The breakaway survives at the line with 3 to go, but that's it - they'll be done before this lap is out.

Looks like Jonny Clarke will be the last rider caught.

9km remaining from 167km

We're going to have to call it, Mr. Clarke. You're caught by the Sky train.

Sky will be wanting some good luck today after their Giro d'Italia went belly up after both Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa went down in a senseless crash.

Keep an eye on the Sunweb train - Mike Teunissen is a quick rider.

Also, Ramon Sinkeldam. Sunweb is elbow-to-eblow with Sky and Katusha at the front. Where's Quick-Step?

Quick-Step are scattered - is this not Kittel's day?

7km remaining from 167km

Still not single file - the Sky and Katusha trains have swamped Sunweb, and it's a washing machine behind them.

Trek-Segafredo make an appearance for Degenkolb at the front.

6km remaining from 167km

They'll see one lap to go when they cross the line next time.

Sky are just burying themselves for Viviani. He said he's itching to get a win here.

Now Dimension Data get to the head for Farrar, and Bora-Hansgrohe bring Sagan up.

3km remaining from 167km

One lap to go!

Not even a whiff of a breeze in Sacramento, and Rally Cycling finds their place at the front with a full-on lead-out for Eric Young.

Rally is a Continental team, but were given special dispensation from the UCI to compete here. They'll want to show they deserve the spot.

Sagan's found Degenkolb's wheel, and Kittel is up near the front waiting for his team to amass in front of him.

Danny Pate is in there for Rally going up against some former teammates here. But they're swamped - here comes Quick Step like a TGV.

Quick-Step Floors is amazing. They sat patiently, waiting and waiting, now there are six riders for Kittel with Sagan trying to break in.

1km remaining from 167km

1km to go! Sagan's on Kittel's wheel.

The sprint is on, Katusha gets the lead

Here comes Quick Step again!

Kittel gets launched - and he holds on to take the win!

Sagan was second, with Viviani coming third.

Kittel's lead was so big that his teammate celebrated before he even hit the line.

We're sure that win will make last year's overall winner Julian Alaphilippe feel better as he recuperates from injury at home.

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
5 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
6 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
7 Martin Velits (Svk) Quick-Step Floors
8 Marko Kump (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
9 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Travis Mccabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team

What do you notice about that top 10? Velits was 7th after working almost the entire stage!

That puts Kittel in the first race leader's jersey and green jersey,

It seems Floris Gerts (BMC) managed to stay in there, and the sprint bonus seconds he took make him the best young rider of the race.

Here's the GC

General classification after stage 1

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 3:45:25
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:04
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:06
4 Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:10
6 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
7 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
8 Martin Velits (Svk) Quick-Step Floors
9 Marko Kump (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
10 Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac

And with that, we'll take our leave for today. Don't forget to join us tomorrow afternoon for stage 2 - it's going to be a good one, with Mt. Hamilton on the menu before the finish in San Jose.

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